Season 2 Episode 7

The Weird Abortion Analogies Episode

00:00 Intro

This Episode was lost between the cracks of editing and starts off declaring itself a Barbie freezone, an announcement that made more sense when it was recorded.

02:30 Otters are predators revisited. The jokes about them stealing surf boards and paddleboards is updated with a serious story about women attacked by otters on a river in Montana. A reminder that is needed that wild animals are exactly that; wild.

05:19 This segment reassesses the financial status of the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series as a family who feels less poor and more kid poor. Also, Jay’s recent discovery that The Ministry of Magig underwrote the tuition for every student at Hogwarts sheds a new light on the repeated claims from characters in the books and movies that the Ministry is meddling in Hogwarts business. Of course, they are involved! They are paying for it!

08:44 This segment uses an internet question about a vampire police officer to contrast two views of rights, natural rights and legal rights. Can a vampire police officer with a legal warrant enter a premise without permission from the homeowner?

18:50 Let the analogies begin! Avoiding the mic drop culture of online debating and embracing deeper reflection, this episode focuses on strange analogies, what they are intended to demonstrate for the abortion advocate, and their deficiencies in justifying abortion.

Analogy #1: The Acorn Analogy: An acorn is not a tree in the same way and embryo is not a human.

27:49 Analogy #2: Michael Tooley’s Rational Cats. To have moral value a being must have an immediate practicable capacity to rational reflection. If cats could receive an injection of serum which gave them the rational capacities of an adult human, it would mean neither that we are morally required to give the serum to every cat ensuring they become rational nor that cats under normal circumstances should be morally treated like human beings simply because they now have the capacity to rational agency. In this way, a cat is no different than an embryo, fetus, or newborn.

35:50 Analogy #3: Martian Oysters. What if it was discovered that oysters are actually a very early developmental stage of a rational alien life form from Mars. If they could be returned to Mars, they would naturally mature toward rationality. Unlike Tooley’s cats, these oysters have a natural and active capacity for rationality. Does that solve the problem of Tooley’s cats?

46:04 Now we evaluate analogies from Judith Jarvis Thomson’s 1971 article, A Defense of Abortion.,Fall02/thomson.htm

First, we revisit the most famous analogy from this article, The Violinist. This is the article that launched bodily autonomy arguments and The Violinist is the mac daddy of them all. This leads us to…

Analogy #4: The Giant Growing Child. If a woman were trapped in a house with a giant growing child whose out of control growth threatened to crush her to death, then she would not be morally required to allow the child’s growth to kill her. She could take lethal action against the growing child to save her life.

1:01:53 Analogy #5: Henry Fonda’s Cooling Hands. If Thomson were dying of a high fever and actor Henry Fonda had the ability to heal her with the touch of his cooling hand upon her forehead he would not be required to do so. Though he has the capacity to heal her, she has no claim upon his healing abilities.

1:07:58 Analogy #6: The Burglar Analogy and Analogy #7: The People Seeds Analogy.

Thomson frames the idea of moral culpability of women who understand that sex leads to pregnancy through a progressing series of analogies. An open window does not make you morally responsible for a burglar entering your home. The failure of protective bars highlights this even further. You took precautions to keep the burglar out, so it isn’t your fault if those precautions fail. Finally, if people seeds commonly drifted in the air and landed in upholstery to grow into developing human life, and if you put appropriate screen on alle entrances to prevent those seeds entering your house, you are not responsible should a seed enter your house simply because you like open windows and have upholstery. You have the right to remove that life even if it kills the new life.

Francis Beckwith points out many of Thomson’s arguments pirate in a view of human life that makes the most powerful concession of bodily autonomy arguments, the unborn are one of us, meaningless. Her understanding of human relationships is fundamentally different from our most common intuitions.